John Hope Franklin: African-American Historian

Historian and scholar John Hope Franklin died March 25 from congestive heart failure. He was 94.

Years before there were any black history departments, Franklin was researching the stories of African-Americans. His interest in black history began while he was a graduate student in the 1930s, and he published the book, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans in 1947.

Franklin was the first African-American to hold an endowed chair at Duke University, the first African-American chairman of the University of Chicago's history department and the first African-American president of the American Historical Association.

Franklin also contributed to pivotal events of the civil rights movement; he worked with Thurgood Marshall's team of lawyers in the landmark desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education and he marched with Martin Luther King, Jr in a 1965 protest for voting rights in Montgomery, Alabama. In 1997 he was selected by President Clinton to head the Advisory Board to the President's Initiative on Race.

This interview originally aired March 16, 1990.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.